Tech Diversity

Franklin, Crick, Watson, and Wilkins

Rosalind Franklin was the most important person in the story of DNA’s discovery. She was the first-ever member of the human race—or any other species on earth—to see the secret of life. She answered Schrödinger’s question “What Is Life?” with a photograph she took on May 1, 1952. She pointed her camera at a single strand of DNA…. There was nothing else like [her camera] anywhere in the world….
Franklin knew what she had, but she did not run through the King’s College corridors shouting some equivalent of “Eureka!” She was determined not to leap to conclusions. She wanted to work through the math and have proof before she published, and she was determined to keep an open mind until she had gathered all data. So she gave the image the serial number 51 and continued her work…. Then Maurice Wilkins [Franklin’s associate at King’s College] showed picture 51 to James Watson and Francis Crick, and the three men were awarded the Nobel Prize for a woman’s work.
It was the same when Marietta Blau, an unpaid woman working at the University of Vienna, developed a technique for photographing atomic particles. Blau could not get a paid position anywhere, even though her work was a major advance in particle physics. C. F. Powell, a man who “adopted and improved” her techniques, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1950. Agnes Pockels was denied a college education because she was a woman, taught herself science from her brother’s textbooks, created a laboratory in her kitchen, and used it to make fundamental discoveries about the chemistry of liquids. Her work was “adopted” by Irving Langmuir, who won a Nobel Prize for it in 1932. There are many similar stories. A lot of men have won Nobel Prizes in science for discoveries made in whole or part by women….
For centuries, white men have tried to persuade other people that white men are superior. In the process, many white men have become convinced of their own superiority.
How a Fly a Horse
By Kevin Ashton

Women and the Nobel Prize

Secret of Photo 51

I have been working on the issue of diversity in tech with a class called “Creating Computer Games with Terrance Jackson” that I offered at Larchmont Library last October.
Yet, the issues dealing with diversity in tech goes much deeper than teaching computer programming or tech companies hiring practices and I address some of those issues in an article called “A Lack of Diversity at Google:”
The lack of diversity at Google has… to do with the company’s core structure, which would remain bluntly antagonistic toward behavioral and political diversity….
We don’t have the KGB on our neck, but the end result comes out pretty much the same. People who have independent ideas or who think the wrong kind of thoughts are cut out.
George Orwell quote

“Journalism is printing…” is not an actual Orwell quote but it does capture the essence of his suppressed introduction to “Animal Farm.”

I am updating my computer gaming class to include Google Cardboard. According to a TechCrunch article:
Google is introducing new SDKs for Android and the Unity game engine today that will make it even easier for developers to create new apps.
The class will include a VR app for Sphero. The following is some of the other new material that will also be included in class.
Google Cardboard Unity Sphero

At Larchmont Library we conducted five sessions with local 5th – 8th graders on the following Wednesdays: October 15th, 22nd, 29th, November 5th, and 19th. This is the game that they created:



Click here to play.

It is very important that children learn computer programming as Douglas Rushkoff wrote in Program or Be Programmed:

When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. And as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them. In the emerging, highly programmed landscape ahead, you will either create the software or you will be the software. It’s really that simple: Program, or be programmed.

School is boring
…and since childish people are the easiest customers to convince, the manufacture of childishness, extended into adulthood, had to be the first priority of factory schools. Naturally, teachers and administrators weren’t let in on this plan; they didn’t need to be. If they didn’t conform to instructions passed down from increasingly centralized school offices, they didn’t last long.

David vs Goliath

We think of things as helpful that actually aren’t and think of other things as unhelpful that in reality leave us stronger and wiser.

~ David and Goliath
Malcom Gladwell
Everyone can create.
Creators spend almost all their time creating, persevering despite doubt, failure, ridicule, and rejection until they succeed in making something new and useful. There are no tricks, shortcuts, or get-creative-quick schemes. The process is ordinary, even if the outcome is not.
Creating is not magic but work.
Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.
The Achievement Gap
For decades, educators have struggled to close the “achievement gap,” the persistent differences in test scores, grades and graduation rates among students of different races, ethnicities and, in some subjects, genders.
According to an American Psychological Association article, a group of social and cognitive psychologists have approach this problem not based on the idea that at least some of these disparities are the result of faulty teaching or broken school systems, but instead spring from toxic stereotypes that cause ethnic-minority and other students such as women to question whether they belong in school and whether they can do well there. While such a major problem might seem to require widespread social change to fix, the psychologists are finding evidence that short, simple interventions can make a surprisingly large difference.

Jean Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas set up the ENIAC in 1946. Bilas is arranging the program settings on the Master Programmer. (Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania)

Women pioneered computer programming — but too often, that’s a part of history that even the smartest people don’t know.
Genes do have a huge influence on everything we are, but that influence is constantly subject to interaction with our environment. Intelligence *is*, very simply, a set of skills that a person acquires or does not acquire in his or her life. IQ is a snapshot of where that person’s skills are in that particular moment.

Carol Dweck


Geena Davis

Geena Davis

“The more hours of TV a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life.” ~ Geena Davis



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